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Fantômas is the main character in a French series of detective novels that the author duo Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain published between February 1911 and September 1913 at Arthème Fayard every month with 400 pages each. After Souvestre's death in 1914, Allain wrote fourteen more Fantômas adventures as a solo author between 1926 and 1963.

History of origin

Book cover of the first volume of the Fantômas series (1911)

The novels, which were written based on the division of labor, were spoken simultaneously, chapter by chapter, in separate rooms on phonograph cylinders and later evaluated by two groups of stenographers . This was the only way to manage the workload of one book per month. In preliminary talks, Souvestre and Allain drew a lot for the chapters to be created and agreed on follow-up formulations between the different work packages, because the authors, who were paid by the line, lacked the time for proofreading and for corrections .

The Fantômas character is a ruthless and at the same time ingenious villain. His crimes are characterized by brutality and ingenuity. For example, he fills perfume bottles with sulfuric acid in a department store in Paris, releases plague-infested rats on a passenger ship or forces a victim to see his own execution by strapping him face up in a guillotine . This 'master of crime' is fascinating because of its contradiction to the current social order:

“Fantômas is the black man who sums up all the fears of the citizens, but also has a fascination that is very diffuse: from the black flag of the anarchists to the black shirt of the fascists. Part of the fascination of Fantômas lies in the appearance of a radically different view of capitalist reality. What is breaking into a bank versus founding a bank? And what is a little anarcho criminal against state mass murder? All the consumer terrorists and economic fascists who want to persuade us to live a positive and consensual way of life are not friends of our freedom. Because freedom essentially also means saying no, being different and insisting on self-determination. For many intellectuals, Fantômas was therefore the premonition of a freedom without relativization, without practical constraints, without the state. "

It was precisely the fact that the figure could also be interpreted as a prototype of fascism that cooled the Fantômas enthusiasm in the European avant-garde movements in the late thirties and forties and was partly responsible for the later popular film adaptations with Louis de Funès and Jean Marais were largely depoliticized.

List of Fantômas novels

From Allain and Souvestre
tape subtitle Publishing year
1 Fantômas 1911
2 Juve contre Fantômas 1911
3 Le Mort qui Tue 1911
4th L'Agent Secret 1911
5 Un Roi Prisonnier de Fantômas 1911
6th Le Policier Apache 1911
7th Le Pendu de Londres 1911
8th La Fille de Fantômas 1911
9 Le Fiacre de Nuit 1911
10 La Main Coupée 1911
11 L'Arrestation de Fantômas 1912
12 Le Magistrate Cambrioleur 1912
13 La Livrée du Crime 1912
14th La Mort de Juve 1912
15th L'Evadée de Saint-Lazare 1912
16 La Disparition de Fandor 1912
17th Le Mariage de Fantômas 1912
18th L'Assassin de Lady Beltham 1912
19th La Guêpe Rouge 1912
20th Les Souliers du Mort 1912
21st Le Train Perdu 1912
22nd Les Amours d'un Prince 1912
23 Le Bouquet Tragique 1912
24 Le Jockey Masqué 1913
25th Le Cercueil Vide 1913
26th Le Faiseur de Reines 1913
27 Le Cadavre Géant 1913
28 Le Voleur d'Or 1913
29 La Série Rouge 1913
30th L'Hôtel du Crime 1913
31 La Cravate de Chanvre 1913
32 La Fin de Fantômas 1913
Allain alone
tape subtitle Publishing year
33 Fantômas est-il ressuscité? 1925
34 Fantômas, Roi des Recéleurs 1926
35 Fantômas en Danger 1926
36 Fantômas prend sa revenge 1926
37 Fantômas Attaque Fandor 1926
38 Si c'était Fantômas? 1933
39 Oui, c'est Fantômas! 1934
40 Fantômas Joue et Gagne 1935
41 Fantômas Rencontre l'Amour 1946
42 Fantômas Vole des Blondes 1948
43 Fantômas Mène le Bal 1963

Film adaptations

The series of novels served as a template for numerous film adaptations. The five-part Fantômas film series by Louis Feuillade with René Navarre in the title role was one of the greatest film successes of its time.

In the years from 1916 to 1920, some novels were filmed under the name Phantomas in Germany with Erich Kaiser-Titz , Rolf Loer and A. Lör in the leading role . It was a series of at least 16 parts.

The three Fantômas films directed by André Hunebelle in the 1960s with Jean Marais in the dual role of Fantômas and as reporter Jérôme Fandor , Louis de Funès as Commissioner Paul Juve and Mylène Demongeot as reporter Hélène were also very popular. However, these film adaptations have little to do with the novels by Souvestre and Allain.

In 1980 the directors Juan Luis Buñuel (the son of Luis Buñuel ) and Claude Chabrol shot a four-part mini-series with the participation of ZDF , with Helmut Berger as Fantômas , Jacques Dufilho as Inspector Juve and Pierre Malet as journalist Jérôme Fandor , who again held closer to the novel.

  • 1913: Fantômas - À l'ombre de la guillotine.
  • 1913: Juve contre Fantômas.
  • 1913: Le mort qui tue.
  • 1914: Fantômas contre Fantômas.
  • 1914: Le faux magistrat.
  • 1920: Fantomas. Twenty-part US series.
  • 1932: Fantômas.
  • 1947: Fantômas.
  • 1949: Fantômas contre Fantômas.
  • 1964: Fantômas .
  • 1965: Fantomas versus Interpol ( Fantômas se déchaîne ).
  • 1967: Fantomas threatens the world ( Fantômas contre Scotland Yard ).
  • 1980: Fantômas , French-German television four-part.

Derived appearances

In the Czech television production Die Märchenbraut , Fantômas (portrayed in the style of the Louis de Funès films with a blue mask) appears as the ruler of the fairytale world of adults. However, he is not a crook here, but helps the protagonists. In the sequel The Return of the Fairytale Bride , Fantômas also appears as a helper.

Fantômas also makes an appearance in the German / Czech series Luzie, the horror of the street , created by the same production team : While a Fantômas film is running on television (except for a person in a mask and top hat , various "Fantômas" calls and the screams of a woman one can hardly deduce a plot or cast), the clay figures Friederich and Friederich get a look at the television set by drilling a hole through the wall. Then the orange Friederich with mask and hat also transforms into Fantômas and the green finally into Batman .

Fantômas inspired the Italian cartoonists of the European Donald Duck comics to create the character Paperinik (Eng. Phantomias ).


  • Thomas Brandlmeier: Fantomas - Contributions to the panic of the 20th century. Verbrecher Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-935843-72-0 .

Web links

Fantômas in general:

Commons : Fantômas  - collection of images, videos and audio files

On the silent film series by Louis Feuillade :

Individual evidence

  1. Fantômas - The cruel genius. (France 2008) See: arte TV program ( Memento of the original from October 30, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Thomas Brandlmeier: Fantomas - Contributions to the panic of the 20th century. Verbrecher Verlag, Berlin 2007, p. 3.
  3. Patrice Gauthier, Francis Lacassin: Louis Feuillade. Maître du cinéma popular. Gallimard, Paris 2006, p. 63.
  4. Phantomas in the German Early Cinema Database.